State: Casella must remove flood control berm

Photo of Casella flood control work provided by James Ehlers

by Guy Page

The State of Vermont wants the state’s largest solid waste disposal company to remove a rocky flood control berm it built in Montpelier after the July flood.

The large berm lacks proper permitting and must be removed, state officials say. Since the flood, the State has insisted that flood restraints like berms actually increase the likelihood of future flooding downstream. Instead, it prefers to slow floodwaters by using floodplains as much as possible. 

This morning, water quality advocate James Ehlers sent Vermont media photos of a newly built rocky berm with the following comment: “Hey Vermonters – Which sociopath(s) did this and or issued the permits to destroy the Winooski floodplain not even 6 weeks after the last flood? Location: East Montpelier Road, Montpelier.”

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore this morning confirmed the construction of the berm. 

“We have received numerous reports about the large berm that was constructed after flooding severely damaged that facility,” Moore told VDC. “The berm was constructed without proper permitting and the Agency is concerned that it is likely to exacerbate future flooding conditions; we are actively working with Casella, the property owner, to remove this unauthorized structure.”

According to its website, the Montpelier depot on East Montpelier Road accepts household trash and recycling, and does not accept hazardous waste.

Casella enjoys a reputation as a good corporate citizen and practitioner of environmentally sound practices. It is also a Vermont business success story. On its website: “Casella Waste Systems, Inc., headquartered in Rutland, Vermont, is one of the largest recyclers and most experienced fully integrated resource management companies in the Eastern United States. Founded in 1975 as a single truck collection service, Casella has grown its operations to provide solid waste collection and disposal, transfer, recycling, and organics services to more than one million residential, commercial, municipal, institutional, and industrial customers and provides professional resource management services to over 10,000 customer locations in more than 40 states.”

VDC has contacted Casella by email and will publish any response ASAP.

14 replies »

  1. So the state thinks floods should be spread out, and property should be damaged? Where is the river basin study to support this idea? Without the study, this is just woke nonsense.

  2. RE: water quality advocate James Ehlers

    Another “advocate” sans any professional, civil engineering licensing. Voicing a worthless opinion of no consideration. Cassella’s investment benefits the entire community and trout habit far downstream that otherwise would fill with silt.

    Of note, many Vermont stream beds have been relocated to allow rail and highway development. During heavy storms these streams seek their historic paths. Without well engineered bank stabilization, Millions are repeatedly spent to restore preventable damage.

    Of further concern must be mountain and hillside development. As with the recent devastation in Ludlow. Where once densely forested hillsides softened the fall of rain allowing it to diffuse into the ground over time, it now rushes off ski trails, parking lots, access roads and massive trophy homes with landscaped yards.

    Vermont must purge ANR of mindless, environmental zealots and restaff with degreed, civil engineering professionals aligned with Trout Unlimited.

  3. People have the right to protect their property. This rock slope is no different than those built to protect Vermont’s state highways

    • Peter,
      I agree, and that includes the people downstream. Keep in mind, these are not people. This is a corporation with a mission only to generate profits for shareholders.

      Your observation about armoring along highways is correct. Thank you for raising it. Those practices are responsible in large part for the destruction of private property downstream. Please help your fellow Vermonters to get the state and towns to back roads off our rivers. Thank you.

    • Paul,
      Please report it. And, if you don’t want to, give me the address, and I will. Thank you.

  4. There is an old saying, “no good deed goes unpunished”!
    Helping folks in times of disaster deserves thanks not ridicule.
    There must be more to this story, why permitting and more engineering?
    Come on folks this doesn’t pass the smell test, what’s the real agenda!

    • Lynn,
      Who was/is being helped in this situation? Casella stockholders? Certainly not anyone downstream, least of which what is left of the fish and wildlife dependent on the river.

  5. Flood prevention gets in the way of the people that want to attribute every natural disaster to carbon dioxide.

    • David,
      There is no preventing floods in a floodplain, thus the ecological designation. CO2 has nothing to do with it. Interestingly, this dike/berm will only accelerate the flow of water exacerbating the impacts downstream. Ever squeeze a running garden hose? It’s not complicated physics.

  6. Only in Vermont- the regulators would have delayed the flood control berm construction until the next flood and the garbage filled Champlain. I’m sure many flood reconstruction projects proceeded without LUR approval in order to prevent further disasters. If Casella was a (another) state agency there would be no issue.

    • Peter,
      Have you considered storing trash and HAZMAT in a floodplain along the river is not the best idea with which to start?